What does magnesium do for muscles?
Whether you are a fitness fanatic or are just looking for ways to stay healthy, magnesium is essential. It keeps bones and muscles healthy. It's involved in blood pressure regulation and protein synthesis. It also has an effect on the nervous system, helping to reduce the likelihood of muscle spasms and twitches.
Another area that recent research has indicated magnesium could benefit is muscle strength. To find out more, this blog will cover:
- Is magnesium good for muscle strength?
- Is it common to lose muscle with age?
- How can I use magnesium to support healthy muscles?
Is magnesium good for muscle strength?
Recent research has highlighted a positive link between muscle strength in older adults and the amount of magnesium present in their muscle tissue.
In one study involving 441 volunteers aged between 24 and 98, magnesium status was found to decline with age.2 However, it was also observed that good magnesium levels were positively associated with knee strength.
The authors of this research also indicated that women are more at risk of muscle weakness and mobility issues as they get older because they are more likely to experience magnesium deficiency. This could be linked to various factors, though hormonal changes are most likely to have an influence.
Factors that can contribute to low magnesium levels include:
- Medications like diuretics
- Conditions like type 2 diabetes
- Reliance on alcohol
- Reliance on processed foods
- Low levels in soil
- Effect of aging on digestion and absorption
This isn’t the only piece of research to highlight a positive link between muscle strength and magnesium intake though. A four-year analysis by a team at the University of East Anglia found that a greater dietary intake of magnesium improved muscle strength, muscle mass and bone mineral density in men and women in older age groups.3
The study, which involved over 150,000 men and women aged 39-72, concluded that magnesium may have a role to play in musculoskeletal health. In particular, researchers stated that magnesium is of importance to the older population in order to help prevent conditions like osteoporosis and sarcopenia, as well as fractures.
||Magnesium content per 100g
|Whole grain bread
Is it common to lose muscle with age?
With age comes a natural loss in muscle power and size. This is called sarcopenia and may hinder muscle function, as well as contributing to muscle weakness, fragility and an increased likelihood of bone fractures.
Some factors that may contribute to this problem as we get older include: hormonal changes, reduced activity levels, poor nutrition, low-calorie intake, our body's reduced ability to turn protein into energy, and increased inflammation.
As I have just discussed, magnesium may help to support the health and strength of your muscles as you get older, countering several of the above factors. In addition, following the tips below may be beneficial:
Practise weight-bearing exercises – this might include some gentle weight-lifting or even a spot of gardening. Check out our blog A beginner's guide to strength exercises for more information and suggestions!
Protein – this has been found to support muscle growth in older adults.4 Protein-rich foods include chicken, eggs, broccoli, tuna and lentils.
Eat a varied diet – Make sure you get a wide range of nutritious, unprocessed foods to ensure your body is supplied with enough vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for muscle health.
How can I use magnesium to support healthy muscles?
The research shows that magnesium may have benefits to offer older adults in regards to their muscle strength. It is also an important nutrient in that it supports muscle relaxation, helps to keep cramps and spasms away, and aids muscle co-ordination. Low magnesium levels are also thought to contribute to inflammation and aches and pains.
Magnesium-rich foods, such as those listed above, will help to keep levels up. A supplement is another option, though we have to be careful not to consume too much as this has its own set of side effects.
The recommended daily allowance of magnesium is 300 mg for men and 270 mg for women.
To give your body a little top up of magnesium I generally recommend Balance Mineral Drink. Each sachet contains 112.5 mg of magnesium – 30% of your daily intake. This is in addition to other nutrients like vitamin D, zinc, calcium and potassium which together support the health of the muscles and joints, as well as our energy levels.
1 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attac2 hment_data/file/772434/NDNS_UK_Y1-9_report.pdf